Israeli-American actress-producer-author Noa Tishby he was compiling research for what was to become his newly released nonfiction book “Israel: a simple guide to the most misunderstood country on Earth” (Simon & Schuster) when he discovered this – except for Golda Meir’s 1973 autobiography and Israeli English translations of the work of historian Anita Shapira – there were no books on the history of Israel written by a woman.
“It was shocking to me,” said Tishby, who first appeared on the hit Israeli series 1990 “Ramat Aviv Gimmel” and later sold the Israeli drama “BeTipul” to HBO. The resulting series “In treatment, ”That Tishby co-produced an executive, won a Peabody award, two Emmy awards (for Dianne Wiest and Glynn Turman) and started the popularization of Israeli small screen formats to the American public. (A restart of the series is in progress.)
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But although Tishby, born in Tel Aviv, has been acting professionally since the age of 13 and is a true superstar in Israel, it is social and political activism that runs through her veins. In 2011, Tishby founded Israel’s online defense and rapid response organization, Act for Israel, and in 2014, she helped to forge a partnership between the Schusterman Foundation and the Summit Series and co-created Reality Israel, a series of leadership travel to Israel for working professionals – Jews and non-Jews – in the sectors of music, technology, food and art and science.
Still, when it came to unmasking false narratives and educating her American friends about Israel, a country with arguably one of the worst public relations of any country on planet Earth – a fellow actor she once knew asked why she didn’t use “equipment headache, ”meaning the hijabs worn by many Muslim women – Tishby had a hard time finding the right text. It needed to be complete, but also properly accessible to the average layman.
“I talked to people and they asked me: can you give me something to read that I can kind of educate myself on? And I couldn’t, because much of the literature on Israel is very detailed, profound, historical, ”she says. “And this is beautiful and fascinating, but it is not accessible to most people who do not want to read 6,000 pages of a history book. And I was wondering, where is this book that I can give to my friends and colleagues? And it just didn’t exist. So I decided, well, I better just write. ”
Approximately two years later, Tishby’s “Israel: a simple guide to the most misunderstood country on Earth” addresses issues ranging from the Sykes-Picot Agreement (a secret treaty between the United Kingdom and France that divided the Ottoman Empire) to the murder Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, from Lawrence of Arabia to the BDS Movement (Boycott Divestment Sanctions), which seeks to dismantle Israel.
“I wanted to make it easier for people who are curious about politics, but who never got to educate themselves on the subject, both Jews and non-Jews,” said Tishby. “I am defending Israel with the astute use of facts.”
Tishby discusses her deeply personal connection with Israel, the rise of “global superstar” Gal Gadot and why she “would love to have a conversion over Israel” with Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman.
The book combines a historical analysis of Israel with autobiographical elements from his childhood, education and career in the entertainment world. What led you to take this creative approach?
“When I set out to write it, the book was, I would say, maybe 10% me and 90% Israel’s history. And throughout the process, especially with my editor at Simon and Schuster, Natasha Simon, she encouraged me a lot to include more personal stories, and it became very clear that my family’s story is the gateway to Israel’s history. This only happened during the process of working with Natasha – I didn’t want to put myself so much in the front. And she really encouraged me to do that. And I think it works. ”
The book usually takes a funny and self-deprecating approach. To introduce yourself to American readers, you note in the introduction: “I didn’t end up becoming Gal Gadot”. Lines like this really help connect the reader to you as an author.
“The reason I put that little bit about Gal is because the beginning of the book is very much about my career, and I didn’t want readers to think, wait, why don’t I know this girl? The fact is, I never finished as an actress. I broke down in many other areas and was a pioneer in other areas, but the truth of the matter is that I suck at auditions. I really, really want to. What Gal has achieved is incomparable. It is not an Israeli success – it is an international dunk. Stardom. Period, end of story. She is a successful woman who is making a difference in the world. She is amazing. And what has become clear to me over the past two years that I wrote this book is that I have a story to tell. And that’s when he continued to guide me. I knew that my path was just different, and everything is coming to the center of the stage through the book, and that includes all the failures, of which I am so proud. I didn’t want to look like an actress writing a book. I don’t want people to feel bad about not knowing who I am. I know my place in the Hollywood hierarchy. It’s all good. I love self-deprecating humor. I want readers to know that I take work, history and research very seriously, but I don’t take myself seriously. ”
When it comes to conversations about Israel, there are few nuances. In your book, you widely observe the fact that Israel is not without its flaws. Was that a key point that you wanted to emphasize?
“No country is perfect. You will not judge the United States solely on the basis of the January 6 uprising and Guantanamo Bay, for example. You have to look at everything that is going on, the pros and cons that each country has. And that is one of the things that is lost in the debate about Israel. You have to look at the context. You have to look at the region and know its history. ”
There is a lot of ignorance about Israel publicized on social media, much of it by social activists who may not even realize that they are saying things in support of Hamas, a terrorist organization. Most people in America fail to understand that you can be a liberal and also support the existence of Israel. Was that a driving force for you to write this book?
“Yes. This is especially true in America and Europe because in the Middle East people understand. Moderates in the Arab world hate Hamas as much as we do, but most advocates of social justice in the United States don’t know the difference, and that is one of the things that enraged me. If you have such strong opinions about Israel, this is incredible, but don’t have those strong opinions, unless you can tell me what the differences are between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, between the West Bank and Gaza and Israel. If you don’t know the difference, stay away from Twitter. The loudest anti-Israel voices in the United States – I don’t see any debate about ideas about values and policies. “
Zionist has become a very loaded term, and it shouldn’t be. Having lived in Israel and returned many times since then, the moment I tell people that I am a Zionist, they assume that I am against the existence of a Palestinian state. And it couldn’t be more false. Why do you think the majority of the world believes that if you support a Jewish state, you are opposed to a Palestinian state?
“I am a Zionist. I am pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian, and these things are not mutually exclusive. And this is one of the things that people need to understand, because the debate on Twitter is: are you pro-Israel? Or are you pro-Palestine? And the fact is, most Israelis would like to see a solution. Time course. There are bangs on the right and bangs on the left, just like anywhere else in the world right now. But most Israelis think, we will see a good [peace] to deal. Nobody thinks the situation is sustainable as it is. ”
I am constantly meeting people who do not understand that not all Arabs are Palestinians. Many social activists who claim to know their facts have equated the two without knowing the difference, which means that they do not understand the root of the central conflict that exists in the Middle East. Does that frustrate you?
“All of us in the region understand that it is not an Arab-Palestinian conflict. It is not an Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is an Arab-Israeli world conflict. The Arab world has been involved in perpetuating the problem for the past 100 years. Everyone in the region in particular knows that Israel is not the biggest problem in the Middle East. And there is a new alliance against a real Islamic regime that is trying to enact Sharia law and misogynist government, starting in the Middle East and going elsewhere. Modern forces in the region are holding hands – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. But who will not join the party? Social activists in the United States. ”
Talk about the importance of unmasking the widely perpetuated falsehood that Israel is an apartheid state.
“To say that Israel is an apartheid state is legitimately an insult to the anti-apartheid movements. Because when you start to break, and you base your opinions on facts and not feelings, and you say [people] things like the third largest party in Israel is an Arab party and an Arab judge [George Kerra] sentenced the former president of Israel [Moshe Katsav] to prison and about 20.8% of doctors and nurses in the Israeli hospital and pharmaceutical system are Arabs – they just don’t compute. It is very easy to take a snapshot of a situation in the West Bank and judge Israel by that snapshot of a particular region. And the fact is, you cannot judge Israel by the same standards as you do, say, Seattle or London or any other western country. Look at it this way: how many missiles would have to drop from Mexico in San Diego before Before the U.S. [retaliated] and went to Mexico? I would say one. Israel suffered thousands. ”
His book includes a chapter on BDS and why, in essence, it is a movement that seeks to eradicate Israel. But this is a fact that many people – Jews and non-Jews – do not understand. Sarah Silverman said on her podcast recently, “I’m fine with BDS, as long as it’s clear that you’re boycotting a government.” Sarah is, of course, Jewish and his sister, Susan Silverman, is a rabbi who lives in Jerusalem. What was your reaction to Sarah’s statement?
“I have sent an e-mail [Sarah’s] agents to try to get her on the phone. And I never got an answer. And I really wanted to talk to her about it. Hollywood is liberal, as it should be, and for our community, it is even more important to know what you are supporting. And I don’t think Sarah Silverman really knows what BDS is about, otherwise she wouldn’t have said that she is pro-BDS. I mean, unless she wants to dismantle Israel and make Israel no more. I would love to have a conversation with her and anyone else in the Hollywood community who would like to get some facts. “
In an episode of Marc Maron’s podcast “WTF”, Seth Rogen said: “I have been fed a great deal of lies about Israel all my life. ”He is also a Jew and his parents met in an Israeli kibbutz. What would you say to him?
“I tried to reach [Seth Rogen] also. He said some things that bothered me on that podcast. Number one, he said his parents didn’t tell him the truth, which is a valid criticism, which is why I talk about it in the book. Growing up as a liberal in Israel, we didn’t tell lies. To say things like, the Jews came and the place was empty – that is not entirely true either. Therefore, you must not tell a distorted reality. You must tell the facts as they were and compare them with what was happening in the world at the time and with the 2,000-year-old Jewish history. Number two, he said he doesn’t think all Jews should go to Israel. Why would all Jews be in one place? Everyone, including the Israeli government, was like, who said that? Don’t Jews need everything to go to Israel? Of course. The fact that the Jews are all over the world is part of the strength and resilience of the Jewish people. No one ever said that all Jews should come to Israel. And number three, he said something to the effect, why should there be a Jewish state anyway? This was what infuriated me the most. Because I’m not sure if he was aware of how the mere existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish state gave him subconscious security and confidence as a Jew. In the back of the mind, every Jew knows that shit hits the fan, and periodically hits the fan, as now with anti-Semitism, that there is a Jewish state and that Jews have nowhere to go. ”
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